Popular Anglia Square centre manager Roy Ruggles dies, aged 64.

Popular centre manager Roy Ruggles – credited with turning Anglia Square into a successful shopping venue – has died after a short battle with cancer.

The 64-year-old passed away yesterday just a few weeks after he was diagnosed with the disease.

The news has left colleagues and tenants at Anglia Square grieving and in shock, with many only having heard he was unwell a few days before his death.

Today, tributes to Mr Ruggles, who joined the shopping centre in the mid 1990s, flooded in.

They all told of a popular, happy man willing to go out of his way to help friends and colleagues.

Trevor Wicks, director of Hollywood Cinemas, had know Mr Ruggles ever since he became centre manager, having originally run an adventure playground at Anglia Square before taking over the cinema after Odeon moved out.

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He said: 'We're all devastated – his family and friends but also the residents of Anglia Square as well. He was a great guy. It's very unusual to have a centre manager who's good friends with the tenants as well.'

Robert Brand said Mr Ruggles had saved his family fruit and veg business 10 years ago. After the Cattlemarket at Norwich shut down, Mr Brand, who is the fifth generation of his family to run the business, struggled to find a new site since but the centre manager gave him a chance.

'He was a true gentlemen,' he said. 'He always wanted people to succeed.

'As soon as I heard last week that he was ill, I went to see him at the hospital. It was very emotional. He gave me a hug and a kiss – tears were running down my face. We knew we wouldn't see him again.'

Sarah Wright, secretary at Anglia Square Shopping Centre, said: 'I have worked alongside Roy for some twelve years and I have some extremely fond memories to recall. Roy was such a character, there was always a story or a joke to be told. He was one of the most kindest people I have ever had the honour of knowing.

'He has guided and shaped my career and I will be forever grateful to him for having the confidence in me. I will miss him terribly.'

Stuart McLaren, secretary of the St Augustine's Together residents' association, said: 'I had no idea he was ill. He was working, as normal, up until probably about a week before he died.

'He was a larger-than-life character – both physically and his personality. He was an imposing figure but, once you got to know him, he was very helpful and very friendly.

'He's responsible for turning around what had become a rather run-down place into a successful shopping area. He was very proud of the fact that, shortly before he passed away, he had managed to let every single retail unit in the square. He was very proud of Anglia Square and very protective of its reputation.'

Ruth Hamilton, HR manager at BTW Shiells, the managing agent for Anglia Square, said: 'He was absolutely passionate about and took great pride in both the site and his role. All of us who worked with him had the highest regard for his commitment and dedication. On a business and a personal level, he was an absolute gentleman.

'He was so popular. He was my favourite centre manager of our whole port folio. I still can't believe he's gone.'

Shapoor Naghshineh, of RCP Parking which managed the car parks at Anglia Square, said: 'Over the years, when new owners come and go, Roy has bee the pillar of Anglia Square for everyone else. We wanted to buy it a few years ago and that was because we knew him so well and knew he was a great manager. He was a very easy and lovely person to deal with. There was always laughter and always a smile. He couldn't do enough for you.

'I can't believe it. We had made an appointment to have lunch in August.'

Michael Elliott, site co-ordinator of Anglia Square, had known Mr Ruddle for four and a half years. He said: 'I always found him to be a true gentleman. He has helped me out several times on a personal level, was always there to listen and give advice. He will be sadly missed by me and my partner Lesley.

'Everyone's still very shocked by the sad news. Everyone here is slightly down.'

Sam Wigby, a 23-year-old cleaner at Anglia Square, said: 'He was a much-loved man. He was good to everyone and never had a bad bone in his body. I would have liked to say thanks for all his help.'

Nigel Key, of Simon Eames Builders and Maintenance, said: 'We would like to send out condolences to Roy's family. He was a big man with a big personality, bright and cheerful. He will be sadly missed.'

Sharon Mottram, of Fallow Management, security and cleaning contractor at Anglia Square, said: 'I would like to take this opportunity to say that Roy Ruggles was a larger than life character who will be sadly missed by all at Fallow Management and it has been a pleasure to have worked for such a remarkable person.'

Malcolm Cousley, security supervisor at Anglia Square, said: 'I have know Roy Ruggles since I started my employment at Anglia Square which was in 1997.

In that time I have found Roy to be a pleasant gentlemen and a fine person to work with, We have not always seen eye to eye on some situations but he has always understood my point of view and Roy will be missed dearly by myself and my wife and both my dogs.

'Roy was not only a boss to me but a very dear friend.'

Ian Martin, a colleague at Anglia Square, said: 'Roy was a larger than life character who's generous nature touched many. The sadness felt by those truly reflects the esteem he was held in.'

Phil, Roy, Bill, Les, Barney, Bob and everyone at the 2623 squadron, 19979 to 1994, said: 'Bye, Roy. Thank you for everything.'

Leave your tributes to Mr Ruggles below.

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